It is a fun time for us at Duke with the NBA Playoffs going on but I can’t figure out which team to root for.  I am following our eight Duke guys on playoff teams as well as the Olympic players we’ve worked with and the coaches, front office guys and owners with ties to our program.  I have rooting interest with every team so it is impossible to pick just one.
d
Usually at night after the kids are in bed and my wife is reading a book, I am tuned in to TNT, ESPN or ABC and watching the games.  Obviously the Duke guys we coached here are the players we follow most closely.  The Bulls/Sixers series is especially tough on me.  Chicago has Carlos and Luol who I coached here and Philly has a former Duke teammate of mine in Elton Brand.  Also, the Sixers coaching staff includes the dads of my fellow assistants with Doug Collins (father of Chris) as head coach and Jeff Capel, Sr. (father of Jeff) as an assistant.  I root for both teams.  Adam Silver (the NBA’s No. 2 guy to David Stern) is a Duke grad and big fan of our program so I may have Coach K reach out to him to see if we could have that series end in a tie.
d
Coach K follows the playoffs like crazy too because he has a personal relationship with so many of the players and coaches in the NBA.  He’d follow it as closely as anyone because of all those relationship even in a non-USA Basketball year.  With the Olympics coming up, he is as glued in as ever.
d
We were all sad to see Derrick Rose get injured.  He’s so talented and loves to play.  I am sure Carlos and Luol are devastated on a personal level but they’ll be ready to step up and answer that challenge.  They are guys who have been All-Stars and outstanding players.
d
It is a blessing to be able to work with guys like Carlos and Luol, players who make it to the NBA Playoffs.  That is one of the amazing things about being a player or coach here at Duke.  You get to be around guys who achieve at the highest of levels and dream big.  Carlos did that at Duke as a main cog on a national championship team.  I’ll never forget working with him as he pushed to get back in shape for the 2001 NCAA Tournament after breaking his foot.  His return in the Final Four pushed us over the edge against Maryland and Arizona, helping us become national champions.
d
With Luol, he was one of our first one-and-done players.  He handled that well and got as much out of Duke as you could in a year’s time.  One of my favorite memories from Luol’s Duke career came in the 2004 regional final.  With a spot in the Final Four on the line, he came in at halftime and gave an emotional speech to the team.  In the second half, his actions on the court spoke as loudly as his inspiring words at the half in the locker room.  The biggest play of the game came with 3:00 left and the score tied.  Luol really battled for an offensive rebound and found JJ Redick for a three.  A minute later, Luol found a piece of the paint and converted an acrobatic tip-in to push the lead up to five.  His regional MVP honor was well-deserved.  Off the court, Luol has been an amazing representative of our university from day one when he arrived at Duke on a mission.  Both Luol and Carlos are winners, great players and team guys.  We are lucky to have had them in our program.
d
Another great Duke story in these playoffs is unfolding down in Miami where former college roommates have reunited.  Nick Arison was a student-manager for our team and now is CEO of the Heat.  He lived with Shane at Duke and helped recruit him to Miami.  Shane’s had such a good career and been so consistent.  For him now to be on a team that has a chance to win an NBA championship and share it with one of his best friends and former college roommates is fun for us to see.  Those are the types of incredible stories that happen at Duke not only within our program but all over campus.  You are talking about a guy who is eventually probably going to own the Heat and his close friend who is a key player on a serious championship contender.  The dream started in a dorm room at Duke.
d
Those are just a few stories and Duke thoughts from the playoffs — I’d like to share more as the playoffs continue.  Before I go, I want to thank everybody for reading the blog and sending feedback on Twitter (@steve_wojo).
d
Duke Basketball Never Stops.
d
Coach Wojo

Carlos helped us hang one of the banners in the background in 2001

← PREVIOUS ARTICLE

Swag Up for @JayBilas

April 28, 2012 - Posted By

NEXT ARTICLE →

Happy Mother's Day!

May 9, 2012 - Posted By